uh oh ... heading into a crisis

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by myfirstandlast, Jan 1, 2008.

  1. Entering unknown territory here. Leaning on the wisdom of the been there done that crowd.

    How to sum up the last 7 years, the time I've known my now 14 year old stepdaughter ...

    She has lived, up until just recently, with her mother and an abusive stepfather. Her mom moved out just this past summer. Due to finances, her living situation now is a home in a trailer park. I'm not judging all of them -- lived in one myself -- but this one has a bad rep. Smallish town, not rural but not quite urban.

    She meets a neighbor boy, close to her age. She and her best girl friend hit it off with this guy and his brother.

    Over the holidays, the he-said she-said of typical teendom and myspace chatter escalated to her and her boyfriend breaking up, then patching things up, then getting in a fight with her girlfriend, etc. All the while she is leaving comments like "death is coming sooner than I thought" and "I can't live without you" and that sort of thing. Crying, screaming, typing, fighting with her mom, all this per her mother's desperate phone call to my husband.

    Apparently mom hacked into her myspace account and found info about her "cutting" and other stuff. Says she has threatened to kill herself. Things really escalated and she hit/pushed her mom. Runs away from home. Told her friends that her mom kicked her out and locked her out of the house, not sure if that's true.

    Further email snooping reveals that she and her friend were getting drunk recently while home alone, and smoking weed she got from her boyfriend. That she is wanting to have sex with this guy. He was verbally abusive to her (in myspace messages) calling her names, and mad that she wouldn't have sex with him (at the time) and accusing her of liking other guys more, etc. She seems so desperate to keep him.

    Compounding this with the fact that as of the end of summer, she was almost moved in with us due to her attitude at home and problems with school and other things. She cried and begged and pleaded and promised to get better grades, treat her mother better, and go to counseling. The deal was she does those things, or she moves out here with us. She does NOT want to do that ... new school, hour from friends, etc. but she has not held up her end of the bargain.

    Here's the problem I've seen from day one ... neither parent enforces. They are good parents with a manipulative child. She's a good kid, but she has learned to get her way. She bullies or ignores her mom, and cries to daddy and always, always gets what SHE wants. I've never seen anything else.

    I'm scared to death.

    The plan is to move her in with us effective tonight. Neither she nor her mother know right now. (Her mom might tip her off and she'll run away from home again.) At the end of summer, the mom had been relieved that she would be moving in with us ... but caved when her daughter cried and begged and swore to change ... and so did her dad.

    I'm not a super parent. I'm a lousy stepmom. I don't know how anyone can treat their own children and their steps the same, although my husband is better at it than me ... he does tend to see my kids faults a lot more clearly and consider them bigger issues. I guess I'm the same. We need so desperately to get on the same page here.

    We're locking up the guns and ammo (we hunt; all our kids are used to guns, know gun safety, how to shoot, etc.) because of her suicide threat. Don't know how much farther to go ... lock up all rope and cord and knives and ... *sob* I just don't KNOW.

    I told my hubby he has to be prepared to call the police on her if necessary. I told him I will NOT tolerate being hit or abused, period. I left my ex so that MY daughter wouldn't grow up in an abusive household and turn out how his daughter is becoming. So scared. She's close to being an adult, bigger than me, and all uncontrolled emotion.

    I told him he has to be prepared to take her to the ER if she threatens suicide, or call an ambulance if she refuses to go, and let them FORCE her to go. That she could be admitted for her own safety and that we need to be prepared for that possibility.

    I don't want to treat ANY threat as an idle threat, but she has a history of blowing up and saying things for attention and sympathy as a means to the end that she desires. I hope I don't sound awful ... I love her ... I'd say the same about my own kid. Mine are certainly not perfect. I've had so many days where I felt like an absolute failure as a parent ... I don't feel qualified to offer my husband and his daughter's mom advice ... but I don't feel like I can sit back and watch the girl play off them and walk away from this with nothing changing yet again.

    I'm sharing this with my husband and with her mom after we pick her up. I don't want to sound judgmental of either of them or of my stepdaughter ... I'm more scared of nothing changing than I am of the unknown about to explode here.

    My advice would be to ground her from phone and computer indefinitely ... until we have a PLAN in place. What plan? No idea. I told hubby that she needs counseling whether she wants it or not. She's been abused, watched abuse, and is getting into reckless and illegal activities ... she doesn't want to go and her mom won't make her. She says she'll run away from home. It goes on and on ...

    Can't even post this message without more drama being added to the story ... will update later. :frown:
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    WOW! Sounds like you have your hands full. It really sounds like this kid needs to be evaluated.

    Has she seen a psychiatrist or psychologist? Any type of evaluation for ADHD, bipolar, anything? IF not I would suggest finding a doctor to help. Neuropsychs are supposed to do very good testing.

    If she has problems at school are they not doing the work or learning disabilities? Has anyone CHECKED for LDs? Do not feel bad, you or her bioparents. Many kids do not get tested for one reason or another.

    You need a behavior contract. There are examples in the forums, or ask in Teens and Sub Abuse.

    No violence can be tolerated. If her dad won't call the police for violence against you or other children in the house (or animals), then YOU have to. It is just a responsibility.

    No suicide threat should be tolerated. Call her bluff and have her committed involuntarily if she is a harm to herself or others. My son HATED the psychiatric hospital, learned NEVER to say/write that where I could hear/find it. I didn't tolerate it from his dad, I won't from him!!!

    Go to http://www.loveandlogic.com ASAP. in my humble opinion it is an awesome way for parents to learn to be consistent and to teach their kids the lessons they need to know in the real world. They have many books. They also have the books on audio, so if that is easier, go for it. They have free downloads and all sorts of stuff.

    The Explosive Child is also a great book. One I think is useful if you look at the family as a business with the product being children who contribute to society in a healthy way is Zapp! The lightening of empowerment. It really helped me with my kids. Taught me to collaborate with them on rules and chores, then they were more willing to do them.

    I hope you can work this out. sounds like no fun. Dare I say, "Happy New Year"?

    Sending hugs,

  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Has she ever been evaluated or been in treatment?
    When you marry somebody, their kids are a part of that. Steps treat their kids and their stepkids the same all the time. Maybe you know somebody who can guide you because right now that is your job. You can't treat this child any less. I think I"d be looking for help for her rather than thinking "police." She sounds like she may have a psychiatric disorder, not like she is "bad." I would take her to a Pyschiatrist (with the MD), not a counselor. As one with bipolar who was suicidal, I don't believe a suicide attempt should be taken lightly or is a bluff. Take it seriously. She's already cutting. This is a child who needs a lot of help and never got it. in my opinion I think it's dangerous to ban talk of suicide. It has been proven that people who talk about it are far more apt to do it, and I'd want to heads up. I hope you can give her psychiatric interventions and not view her as a "bad" stepchild. Good luck.
  4. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    It sounds like you have the immediate basics in place regarding safety/self harming/physical aggressive behaviors. It's important that is acted upon immediately & with actions that will make an impact for all concerned & keep all safe.

    Given that she would be losing phone/computer priviledges, what will replace that in the meantime. How will she fill her time safely & with-o resentment so things don't blow up? How/can she earn those priviledges back?

    As Susie recommended a behavior contract is a wonderful idea. You have to mean business as does your difficult child.

    I'd include the general house rules so difficult child doesn't feel "picked on", if you will. There needs to be some way for her to blend in with the family for you to maintain a family relationship.

    Good luck - keep us updated.
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I've been a stepmom for over thirty years and it is still a challenge when it comes to a manipulative easy child. Although I never
    in a million years thought it would ever come down to it...my husband
    who is a very laid back unobtrusive guy, had to figure out which
    "side" he was on. It is difficult to be a step. You are not alone in that arena.

    It is truly imperative that you and husband agree on basic rules. He
    MUST accept that you and he are a team and have to have a team
    plan. No guilt from the past is allowed to kick in on the basic
    plan. You may have to keep it very basic and very simple. No
    violence will be tolerated. Specific rules will be agreed upon
    before the change takes place.

    I don't envy you..have I said that already? lol

    Your husband has to understand that the TWO of you are a team. Teams
    have a plan. Teams work together even when it is difficult.
    Don't trust things to "work out" on there own. They won't. I am sending cyber hugs and support your way. DDD
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have to apologize. I just read my post and I was NOT clear.

    When I said "No suicide threat should be tolerated" what I meant was that if a suicide threat appears it should be treated very seriously so that difficult child gets the idea that it is NOT a ploy to get what she wants. I fully realize some kids use this to manipulate parents, but with-o a complete evaluation I would NOT assume this.

    I meant that each suicide attempt should result in her being taken for evaluation of the seriousness by a psychiatric hospital or ER. Don't buy sodas and stop for food, don't make it "fun" in her eyes in any way. A trip to the psychiatric hospital to evaluate suicide threats is important.

    My own son tried this to get his way (threatening suicide). We committed him to a psychiatric hospital each time. The second they told us he certainly was not a real threat, but had problems. (like we didn't know that!). He did not use this to get his own way again, mostly because he hated being in a locked ward and being told what to do all the time. But we did take every threat seriously.

    I think I deleted something in my post as I was typing. I apologize to ALL.

    Also, with her issues she should certainly see a psychiatrist with the MD AND be in counselling on a regular basis. It is hard, but crucial.

    Again, I am sorry the post was not what I meant.

  7. ck1

    ck1 New Member

    Have you considered coming into it from a different angle? Not that this is a punishment but that a change needs to take place! I would agree with the behavior contract so that she's clear on the rules and consequences, as your own children are I'm sure. I don't think I would take away her phone and computer privileges right away. If she starts at a new school and makes some friends, she won't be able to talk with them.

    You and husband must be on the same page but also, husband has to show that he will no longer tolerate her cr*p. It may work better if you are the "good guy" and he's the disciplinarian. She'll take it better from him and would probably only fight against you then resent you. He could very firmly say he's sorry for putting up with it and allowing her to manipulate him in the past but that will no longer happen. Sounds like husband is the one who really needs to take a deep breath and step up on this. If he's not ready, I wouldn't move her. Why bother? He really needs to know that he's not doing her any favors by not following through on consequences.

    Give her a chance to do well, even if it's a honeymoon period, encourage the good behavior and positive attitude. Maybe that's what she's craving, some positive attention? Counseling is a must with what she's been through. I would tell her that it's for her to have someone else to talk with. Make it part of the contract. I would say that you're taking steps to improve her life. She's obviously not happy with the way it's going now so changes are in order!

    Regarding the suicide threats...yup yup yup. If she says it to manipulate, or she means it, I'd call the police and have her evaluated/committed. My son said it once (psychiatrist said it was his way to "up the ante to get his way") he spent nine days in the psychiatric hospital and believe me he has never said it since.

    If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got...
  8. Pickup did not go well. She screamed and cried and fought. Hubby had to tell her she was going with us if he had to pick her up and carry her to the truck. This went on for about an hour.

    I think she was embarrassed when she realized I had been in the living room the whole time and heard everything. She was quiet but pleasant on the way home. We stopped for fast food and watched part of a movie before bed. Hubby and I needed a good nights rest to tackle the rest.

    I've called the local children's crisis center and received advice on what to do if she tries to hurt herself or others and what to do if she does not comply with voluntarily going to counseling. Hubby is on board and knows that the worst case scenario could mean calling the police to have her involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric treatment center for her own protection, and ours. Better case is she understands her options and agrees to attend counseling ... I've got to make a few more calls and see if I can get something set up on an emergency basis for today or tomorrow.

    I printed out lots of messages about sexual innuendos, illegal drugs, drinking, lies about being locked out of her house and being brought home by police, and more. All to take with us to the counseling center, however that comes around.

    Will update ... we haven't sat her down to talk about her options yet. She slept in until after noon and we've been busy talking about our next steps ... getting ex parte custody if possible, getting schools changed, appointments made, etc.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Glad the evening went peacefully, after the initial tantrum. Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on things, way to go!

    I know it is hard.


  10. Well, we kinda tricked her into getting ready to go into town, so as to get to a safe place to break all the bad news (what we found on myspace, our plan to move her in, etc.) and didn't tell her where we were going until we were almost pulling in to the driveway of the treatment center. She didn't try to bolt, but MAN she was :censored2: at us all. She signed her patient paperwork and sat quietly, not crying or making a scene.

    Once we got in for our appointment, the adults did most of the talking ... except when she'd chime in to say that all the times on her myspace messages she talked about smoking weed, that it was all lies, she was just joking around, etc. Staff was ready to call her bluff if need be and let her know she could "clear her name" with a simple on-site urine test. Quiet. :smirk:

    She absolutely positively does NOT want to move in with us. BUT we didn't have to admit her or anything, and we have another appointment tomorrow. She claimed she would cooperate with coming back. I think she is going to try to be as compliant as possible with the hopes that we won't make her move.
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am pulling for ya!!

    Sounds like you have a plan, and a man on board with it!!! SO glad her father stepped up.

    Glad you did not have to admit her. Sorry she would not take a drug test. It might be a good idea to have random testing in her behavior contract. Need to think of consequences for taking it and refusing it, and for testing positive for drugs and negative for drugs.

    Sigh. So much at such a young age.


  12. Yeah, it has been days and days of crying for all of us. I'm glad we didn't have to go with the worst case scenario ... but we were prepared to.

    Okay, so I'm not going to share this with her bio-mom right away like I planned, although I think in time I'll share this site because I think it will help her ... but I'm concerned that she will back out of our agreement to try and "save face" with her daughter, like she did last time. She can't take her daughter being angry with her, wants to be the good guy, and get her out of having to move in with us.

    If she caves, and DSD gets her way AGAIN, there is nothing we can do about her being home alone over an hour away ... no way to keep her from the people she claims to be doing drugs and drinking with ... no way to monitor phone and internet. To me, it would be like doing nothing but showing her once again that she manipulates the show. :smirk:

    I love her, more than I knew I did. There are so many issues to deal with, all brought to light so suddenly ... and those that have been simmering in between blow-outs. I told the psychiatric at our intake appointment that we are ALL conflict avoiders, that nothing happens unless we are IN a crisis.
  13. Good second meeting. The psychiatric talked to her alone first, and then to both of us. She is charming and cooperative. He is seeing her good side. We all know it is the calm before the storm ... the honeymoon period in the cycle of abuse ... and when we restate that she will be moving in with us and changing schools (which the psychiatric firmly supports) the bomb will explode.

    My big concern right now is her mom backing out of the deal because she can't stand up to her daughter, or caves to the crying/begging. (If you look at my past posts, we did all of this in late summer. Except therapy.)

    My husband is going to the county courthouse to get a copy of his custody arrangement and to hopefully find out what he needs to do to switch physical custody from mom to him. He may not be able to do this with his daughter present. And the mom may change her mind, and not agree. Which leaves ... court?

    Have to see what I can find out about changing schools without missing much class, if any. No one in the offices until Monday when classes start, to my knowledge.

    Thanks for the support, all. I realize this is STILL the calm before the storm.
  14. Things are getting stickier. She was with her dad when he went to the courthouse to get a copy of his custody papers (lost them a long time ago) and asked what he had to do to change physical custody ... it got really *real* for her then.

    (We got a pretty big shock then ... he doesn't even have joint LEGAL custody!! We've got our work cut out for us now.)

    She's not acting out but she's very upset. Quiet, and crying a lot, not loud for attention, but in her room. She stopped talking to her dad when he went in to tuck her in when he said we have to go back to the courthouse today to get what we need to change schools.

    I waited a few minutes and talked to her quietly. I said I DO understand, I was also switched twice, in 5th and in 7th, and most of my friends I met in high school, but I still talk to friends I met in 3rd and 4th grade, and it really won't be as bad as it seems ... that I knew she probably hated all of us right now, but that she would someday understand that we couldn't just do *nothing* ... that I loved her and was sorry to see her so upset and the same goes for both parents, BUT they are not backing down this time.

    Here goes another day! Have to drop her off at hubby's moms, run to school and court, get back to take her to a 1:00 appointment with the psychiatrist at the same place we've been going to the psychologist, and they also want to do some 2 hr. personality testing next week, and start on weekly appts.

    It's a start. A rough road, but this one smooths out instead of getting rockier and steeper like the one she was on. :smile:
  15. weatheringthestorm

    weatheringthestorm New Member

    Best of luck to you. It sure is a hard road you're on. You and your stepdaughter remind me a bit of my stepmom and me. My mom was married to a horrbile and abusive man. After a stint in the psychiatric hospital I went to live with my dad and stepmom for a while. (back then my mom just gave him a notorized letter giving him temp custody, it got me enrolled in school, etc. Don't know what you have to do now.) My dad lived in a different state about 8 hours away from home. That part was hard. But if she's hanging out with the wrong people getting away should be good.

    From experience I say it's really easy to fall back on old habit once she goes back to her mom. So, be careful not to send her back to soon (or maybe at all).

    You're doing the right thing by getting her the counseling and help that she needs. She does sound sick rather than just bad. I'd also like to suggest you read the Explosive Child. I'm in the middle of it and it really makes sense. I have to read it on the sly when my difficult child can't "catch me"!

    A little hope... I'm all grown up now and have a good relationship with all my parents, stepmom too!

    Best of luck!
  16. She's not a bad kid, just trying too hard to fit into the wrong crowd. Unfortunately, the "wrong" crowd is often the most accepting of people who are different or new in school. We've got to watch for that in her new school.

    Friend of the Court let her bio parents write up a stipulation that was immediately entered. $80 later we have joint legal, primary physical and child support set to $0 like we asked for, with full cooperation from mom. Can't begin to tell how much that helps.

    She shows more emotion with dad, but is talking to me. Part of the problem was a boyfriend who was still in love with his ex, and she found out he is going back to that person. He was one of the bad influences that I hope she will find easier to leave behind knowing that he is not available.
  17. daughter-14 is doing pretty good. She got into two electives she really wanted, Choir and Drama, and is part of the chorus in an upcoming play, and practicing after school every day. We also have her enrolled in a dog obedience class that meets every week for 8 weeks so that she can show our family dog in 4-H. She got a pet rat, and a cell phone. (Already went over her minutes, used a months' worth in a week! Yikes!)

    We have a pretty good motivational plan for her to do well in school ... for all A's and B's for the rest of the year, she gets $200 toward taking driver's ed this summer. (If she doesn't get those grades, she has to pay for the full cost herself.) We reward all three kids the same way, not with cash, but by helping them pay for something they REALLY want badly. Usually it's less than $100, but we felt she needed pretty strong motivation, as she was failing several subjects at her old school.